This coming weekend we'll likely see the end of one of the most personal rivalries in modern day boxing, as Mexican star Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (57-2-2, 39) and Kazakh icon Gennadiy Golovkin (42-1-1, 37) meet in their third, and likely final, bout. Like the previous two the bout is expected to be a thriller between two incredibly talented, well rounded fighters, with different styles, but the same hunger to prove themselves and the same desire to take home the win over their greatest nemesis.
The two men, who's careers will always be linked, first fought in September 2017, with Golovkin holding 3 of the 4 major world titles. That bout saw the men fight to a much disputed draw, with many feeling that Canelo had been protected from a loss by the judges, especially Adalaide Byrd who some how gave Golovkin just 2 rounds with an awful 118-110 card for Canelo. The two were scheduled to rematch the following May but a failed drugs test by Alvarez saw the bout being pushed back to September 2018 when Canelo controversially defeated Golovkin to claim the WBA and WBC Middleweigjt titles. Since that bout the two men went their separate ways, though it always seemed like a third was, ultimately, in their destiny.
Since losing to Canelo we've seen Golovkin go 4-0 (3), he has looked like he has lost a gear, though still had enough to beat top competition in the form of Sergiy Derevyanchenko and Ryota Murata, and not just reclaim world honours at Middleweight but also unifying the IBF and WBA "super" titles. Canelo on the other hand has gone 7-1 (5). Along the way he claimed the WBO Light Heavyweight title and unified all 4 world titles at Super Middleweight, before losing last time out, at Super Middleweight, to Dmitriy Bivol. That loss was his first since 2013, when he lost to Floyd Mayweather Jr, and much like Mayweather Jr.
For this bout, unlike the other two, the fight will take place at Super Middleweight. The move in weight could be an interesting factor. It's the weight class that has seen Canelo control in recent years, with notable wins over Callum Smith, Billy Joe Saunders and Caleb Plant, to secure all 4 titles, but also a weight that he will be dropping back down to, which is rarely an easy task. Likewise for Golovkin the bout will be his first at 168lbs, though he has had catch weight fights above 160lbs early in his career, and it will be very interesting to see what he looks like at the higher weight.
In the ring not a lot needs saying about either man, afterall they have both been fighting at the top level for over a decade and we suspect everyone who follows the sport will have seen a lot of both men. Canbelo is a smooth punching, intelligent pressure fighter, with a good boxing brain, solid power and decent work rate. He isn't the quickest, the most powerful, or the strongest, but he's a smart fighter who has under-rated defense, excellent offense, and lovely combination punching, especially up close. At range he can look poor, and a fighter who keeps him chasing can make him look poor, but his pressure tends to get to fighters, sooner or later. As for Golovkin he's a defensively limited fighter, but someone who has rocks for hands, a very good work rate, a stunning chin, and can land brutal shots to head or body. Sadly Golovkin has slowed down, a lot, from the fighter he once was, and looked only a shadow of himself at times against Murata.
Coming in to this we don't expect to see anything new from the men involved. Aged 40 isn't suddenly going to develop into a defensive master and at 32 Canelo, with 61 fights to his name, we don't expect to see anything new from Canelo either. Saying that we don't expect this fight to fully look like their previous two, which were instant classics. We, sadly, expect Golovkin to again look old. Especially early on, and that will work to Canelo's strength, with Alvarez being an excellent body puncher. It seemed that Murata hurt Golovkin with a body shot in their bout, and Alvarez might not have the single punch power of Murata, but places shots better, is a better combination puncher and is clearly quicker and sharper. With that in mind we expect to see Canelo going to the body early, landing there a lot in the first 3 or 4 rounds, and take gas out of Golovkin's tyres. Later on we expect to see Golovkin begin to show what he can do, but not have the intensity needed to make a major impact, before slowing down again as Canelo gets his second wind and does enough to earn a clear decision, if not a very late stoppage against a tired Golvokin.
Although we do favour Canelo here, we do expect the move up in weight will be a good one for Golovkin, and perhaps something he should have done in 2019, following his loss to Canelo. We can't help but feel his frame would have suited the division well, and bouts against the likes of Callum Smith, Caleb Plant and Billy Joe Saunders would have been interesting for him at 168lbs.
Prediction - UD12 Canelo
This coming weekend fight fans around the globe will be focused on the Light Heavyweight division as the unbeaten Dmitrii Bivol (19-0, 11) takes on Mexican megastar Saul Alvarez (57-1-2, 39), at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The bout will see Bivol looking to extend his WBA Light Heavyweight "super" title reign, whilst Alvarez will look to further cement his place as the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet, and one of the greatest Mexican fighters of all time.
The bout promises to be a serious test for Canelo, who has looked sensational in recent years, whilst Bivol will get a chance to make a huge name for himself and prove he really is as good as his fans believe.
Of the two fighters there is no doubting that Alvarez is the bigger name and the more prominent star. The Mexican is widely regarded as the face of the sport and the biggest global star boxing has. Not only is he regarded as a huge star but he's also widely regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter, and has had success from Light Middleweight up to Light Heavyweight, winning titles in all 4 weight classes. Not only that but his resume is also incredible, with wins against the likes Shane Mosley, Austin Trout, Erislandy Lara, Miguel Cotto, Amir Khan, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, Gennady Golovkin, Daniel Jacobs, Sergey Kovalev, Callum Smith, Billy Joe Saunders and Caleb Plant.
In the ring Canelo is a supreme fighting machine. He's an offensive fighter, who presses forward on the front foot, mentally breaks fighters with his front foot pressure, but applies that pressure in an intelligent, educated fashion. He uses smart footwork to cut the ring off, excellent head movement to make fighters miss, a tight guard to block shots that head his way, and some of the best body punching in the sport. Although not a huge single punch puncher Canelo is heavy headed, and his shots do damage right through the bout, with his power carrying late into bouts. He's often looks under-sized at 168lbs, never mind 175lbs, but he's physically imposing, thick, heavy set and incredibly strong, allowing him to push naturally bigger men around. Worryingly for opponents he's also intelligent, with a good boxing brain and he has shown an ability to adapt when he needs to. If we're looking for flaws with Canelo, he does have relatively slow feet, movement has caused him issues numerous times during his career and fighters have had success by keeping him chasing, but he his typically got to them sooner or later, Floyd Mayweather Jr aside.
Russian based fighter Bivol is a fighter who has generated a lot of buzz among the hardcore fans early in his career, with exciting performances, and highly developed skills, along with an impressive work rate and a fan friendly style. His early years as a professional gave hints at him something a bit special, and someone worth tuning into. It was noted that he was a stand out amateur, though from his early days as a professional it was clear he had a style suited to the professional ranks. Early career wins over the likes of Felipe Romero, Jackson Junior and Felix Veral, all in his first 7 fights, put him on the fast track. Sadly however as the level of competition improved Bivol's style began to move away from exciting and over the last 4 or so years he has gone from exciting to conservative, controlling and effective, turning fans against him, despite solid wins over the likes of Sullivan Barrera, Isaac Chilemba, Jean Pascal and Joe Smith Jr.
In recent years Bivol has focused a lot on boxing. Dictating the range, tempo and style of the fight. Using footwork to create space. Controlling the action behind his long straight punches, and good timing, rather than work rate, aggression and combinations. He has seemingly been happy to cruise to wins, and had disappointing performance against the likes of Isaac Chilemba and Craig Richards as a result. There is no doubting his talent, but there is a lack of fire, excitement, drive and in some ways ambition. And it has resulted in a lot of his recent fights feeling dramaless, as he sucks the excitement out of bouts. It works, and gets results, but certainly does feel like he has lost much of the good will he had.
Although a solid Light Heavyweight Bivol is certainly no physical freak at the weight, nor a massive puncher. With Canelo looking to make his name at the weight, Bivol is the ideal foe for him, unlike Joe Smith Jr and Artur Beterbiev, who can both bang. Bivol will try and box with Canelo, and will have success, with his footwork, straight punching and work at distance. Sadly though we don't see him keeping Canelo at bay long enough to rack up the rounds, and instead he will be forced to either stand and fight, or go through the motions to lost a decision.
We don't see Bivol having the hunger needed to make this into a fire fight late on. Instead we see him starting well, being caught up in the middle rounds, and then having Canelo take the lead, with his work rate and pressure, and go on to take a wide, clear, decision over the champion. Bivol will have moments, but will simply not do enough.
Prediction - UD12 Canelo
This coming Saturday we'll see one of the biggest fights of 2018, as we get the long awaited rematch between Kazakh Middleweight sensation Gennady Golovkin (38-0-1, 34) and Mexican boxing superstar Saul Alvarez (49-1-2, 34). The rematch comes a year after their highly controversial draw, which saw Golovkin retain the WBA “super”, WBC and IBF Middleweight titles whilst also continuing his unbeaten run. It also saw “Canelo” Alvarez face criticism for his style and for favourable judging, especially from Adalaide Byrd who had him winning 118-110.
This rematch was supposed to take place back in May, though was cancelled at short notice when Alvarez tested positive for Clenbuterol. Although the Mexican blamed food, specifically beef, for the positive test it does seem like he's not taken responsibility for his actions, something that has continued to anger the Golovkin team. On the flipside of that however is Golovkin's trainer Abel Sanchez making various accusations about Canelo, including mentioning a suspect wrapping technique.
Although the two men went into the first bout with a lot of respect for each other it does seem like this rematch will be fought will less respect and more emotion. Both men seem to have a genuine dislike of the other, their fan bases and their teams. There is still some mutual respect of the other's ability, but as people it's clear the two will be on each other's Christmas card list in December. Despite their animosity we're expecting to see both men put in a calculated performance as they look to improve on what they did last time out, and take home a victory here.
In their first bout the heavy handed Golovkin took centre ring, he backed up Canelo and seemed to be the clear aggressor. Not only that but he had the higher output, the better work rate and the more consistent offensive work. Sadly for Golovkin he failed to go to the body for the most part and looked to be on the end of the biggest single shots. By failing to go to the body he allowed thr younger, quicker, Canelo to get away, and perhaps if he had gone to the body he would have made the Mexican stay still a little more, and even opened him up for the heavier head shots that could have made the difference.
Those who have seen Golovkin over the last few years will know what to expect from him. He's a strong, powerful boxer-puncher. Technically he's solid with an impressive jab and under-rated footwork. Sadly he's now 36 and just losing that half a step he once had. His power is still impressive, as we saw in May against Vanes Martirosyan, but doesn't look as devastating as it once did and relative lack of speed is obvious in terms of both his footwork and his handspeed, as well as his defense.
Canelo, who was once a front foot fighter who applied pressure and used his physical traits in an imposing manner, has rounded out to be one of the sports better all-rounders. Again Golovkin he showed good movement, an ability to stick to a game plan and excellent counter punching. Sadly one of the issues that has always been a problem for Alvarez is his work rate. Whilst what he landed on Golovkin was quality his actual output was disappointing, and not for the first time it felt like he had ran out of steam to keep up any sort of sustained attack. He had moments but they were fleeting, short lived and tended to consist of a single shot or two.
With 52 bouts under his belt the 28 year old Mexican is a true veteran, with almost 13 years of professional experience behind him. There is a chance that he will age quickly, and he's been in tough bouts against the likes of Golovkin, Erislandy Lara, Austin Trout and Floyd Mayweather, who all caught him clean. Saying that however he looked like their was still a lot of miles left on the clock last time out and a year out of the ring since then will certainly do him no harm, allowing him to rest and recover from any niggles he's had. If he's used the time since May wisely he may well be in the best shape of his career, for a bout he simply cannot afford to lose.
We're expecting this bout to be very similar to the first bout between these two. We think, again, that Golovkin will press forward, backing Canelo on the ropes. We also think Canelo will box well off the back foot. The key to winning however will be what changes the fighter makes. If Golovkin can go to the body he increases his chance, if Canelo can increase his output by 10% then he'll probably do enough to take the victory. It really is one where small changes will decide the outcome.
Of the two we think Golovkin will make the changes easier. He has a proven ability to go to the body, breaking down good fighters with body shots. We've never seen Canelo show a great work work rate, especially not against a fighter who can hit him back. We think Golovkin will make the alternation needed, and will do so in a way that the judges won't be able to deny him. We also think that there has been a general downward view on Canelo and where the judges may have favoured him based on fan reaction in the past, that won't be an issue, and the judges may well find themselves scoring the closer rounds to Golovkin, this time around.
The Middleweight division has always been one of the most significant in the sport, and historically has one been perhaps the second or third most important weight class in boxing, with only the Heavyweight clearly defining it's self as more significant. Over time we have seen icons make their name at the weight, such as Sugar Ray Robinson, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Carlos Monzon, Harry Greb, Roy Jones Jr and Bernard Hopkins. This weekend we get the chance to see the division again come to the fore as we get the division's biggest fight in years.
The bout in question will see WBC, WBA, IBF and IBO champion Gennady Golovkin (37-0, 33) take on linear champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (49-1-1, 24). The bout is essentially to crown a single king at 160lbs, it's also to decide who is the better man, and which of the two really is a pound-for-pound top fighter. It pits the biggest name in Mexican boxing against the biggest in Kazakhstan, and in fact it pits two of the sport's genuine global stars against each other, in a bout that has split fans around the world.
The bigger name going in to the bout is Canelo. The 27 year old Mexican was long ear marked as a potential star and made his debut at the prodigious age of 15 years old. His early career was a bit slow burner but in 2010 he made his US debut, and since then he has become a focal point of boxing not only in Mexico but also in the US.
Out of the ring Canelo is a big deal, a huge one in Mexico, and in the ring he has the ability to back it up. He's a compact boxer-puncher who has heavy hands, nice combinations and has been in with a real who's who of the sport. He holds wins over the likes of Miguel Vazquez, Carlos Manuel Baldomir, Kermit Cintron, Shane Mosley, Austin Trout, James Kirkland, Miguel Cotto, Amir Khan and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and his only loss is to Floyd Mayweather Jr, no shame there.
Although Canelo is one of the best boxer-punchers in the sport he is a flawed fighter, and one open to a lot of criticism. On paper his record looks amazing, but the reality is that he actually lacks many quality wins over prime opponents, with his stand win being a controversial one over Lara. Most of his wins, such as ones over Baldomir, Mosley, Kirkland and Cotto coming against men who were beyond their best. He can be made to look slow, his work rate isn't that high and although he has a reputation as being heavy handed, he's not a monstrous puncher, more a thudding one with every shot hurting. At 5'9” and with a 70.5” reach he is also a rather small Middleweight and although he's a thick fighter he's someone who will regularly be giving away size at Middleweight.
When it comes to Golovkin we have a fighter who splits a number of fans. His supporting will tell you about his long pursuit to get a big fight, and his inability to lure other top fighters in the ring during his pomp. At 35 years old he is probably past his best, hence why some feel Canelo took the fight, but he is coming in to this on the back of a huge win over Danny Jacobs. Having mentioned Jacobs it's worth noting the American was the latest in a long line of notable wins for Golovkin, who has beaten championship level fighters like Kassim Ouma, Daniel Geale, Marco Antonio Rubio, Matthew Macklin, Kell Brook, David Lemiuex, and the aforementioned Jacobs.
Blessed with naturally frightening power Golovkin has had a long amateur background, he uses those skills to control the ring really well, he measures distance and angles brilliantly and although he's an aggressive fighter he's one who uses a lot of intelligent pressure. He backs that pressure up with a really solid chin, that helps make up for some of his defensive flaws. For all his talent he does have chinks in his armour, notably his leaky defense, a lack of head movement, and given his age there may well be some natural slow down, along with wear and tear. Offensively he is brilliant but he can be reckless, and he often shows little respect to opponents.
In the ring it will be Golovkin's pressure against against the counter punching skills of Canelo. Canelo will look to use Golovkin's pressure against him, and make him pay for his defenses lapses. As for Golovkin he'll be looking to be more intelligent than usual, use his reach and not sit in the pocket too long. He'll be looking to use his jab and his foot work, like we saw against David Lemieux, and limit the openings for the Mexican.
We suspect that a close bout will go to Canelo, we think everyone would agree with that, so we can't imagine Golovkin sitting back with his jab too much. But we think that will be his key early on, using the jab to try and pick holes in Alvarez, probably to the body. If he can do that, and bring the hands down he will get the chances late on to take it out of the judges hands. If Canelo can hold his own early on, and not take too much punishment early on, there's a fantastic chance he'll go on to hear the final bell and take the decision. With Canelo's combinations he will impress the judges, his eye catching shots are always a joy to watch, but he'll understandably look to limit them, for fear of being forced to eat too many shots from Golovkin. We think Golovkin will chip apart at Canelo and force a late stoppage, but we wouldn't be massively surprised at a win for the Mexican.
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.